Despite its natural bounty and the significance of nature to our national identity, Canada has badly lagged other countries in the protection of ecosystems and wildlife habitat. To date, we have protected only 10.6 per cent of our terrestrial ecosystems and inland waters and less than 5 per cent of our marine areas. Among OECD countries we rank 17th out of 25 in the proportion of lands protected, despite the global importance of Canadian lands and seascapes as habitat for iconic wildlife, such as polar bears, caribou and orca. Equally problematic is that Canada spends far less than neighboring jurisdictions on nature conservation. For example, an analysis by the B.C. Wildlife Federation has found that western US states spend 10 times more per area, and six times more per capita on wildlife conservation programs than B.C. and Alberta. Wildlife doesn’t recognize political borders and thus this deficit in funding is a direct threat to important transboundary populations, from threatened grizzly bears to monarch butterflies.
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